theaussieword.com catches up with Trent Kainalu for this exclusive special interview.
Give us an introduction. How did it all begin? What had you first interested in music?
Well, from the very beginning… my parents always tell me stories of how they would put headphones on my mother’s stomach while she was pregnant with me and play mozart/earth wind and fire/stevie wonder into it. I think they read somewhere that playing classical music in the womb helps with neurogenesis, but they added in some groovy music too. It’s funny because for years my favorite music was classical and motown.
I began as a piano player at age 7. I was playing mostly classical music until around 12 or 13 when I got a jazz instructor who introduced me to the world of arranging and composing. That was really the game changer for me musically… well that and joining a punk band in middle school haha. From there I started producing myself and finally went to college and studied music composition/genetics.
What motivates or influences you in your quest to make great music?
Growing up, I moved around the US alot and never really had a home base. The only constant in my life was in Hawaii where I would spend the summers living with my mother’s family. I moved to the Midwest as a teenager and began being bullied because my race shortly after. We were all children, I don’t think anyone was coming from a malicious place at all, but because I looked different I think I was “otherized” in a way. Anyways, because of the bullying I began to repress and resent my cultural identity kind of out of necessity. Years later, I began realizing how much I resented my race. Kainalu is a Hawaiian word that roughly translates to ocean waves. To me, Kainalu is a representation of the fond memories of Hawaii, but in another way, I think it’s a journey of self-acceptance. I think that drives the music for me.
What are your biggest goals you hope to accomplish as an artist?
I think most artists, in some way or another, wants to create art that conveys emotions to people. I have so many artists that have really gotten me through the best and worst times in life. I hope to one day write music that could do that for someone else. On a more business oriented level, I want to one day morph my home recording set up into a more established studio that records other artists besides myself.
What can we expect from you in the coming months? Any plans to tour?
A new EP is coming quick, I’ve been pouring myself into it for the last 6 months and I can’t wait to release it. The band and I are looking to go to LA soon to shoot some live music sessions and we’ll be hitting to road in America in support of the new record come summer. Hopefully Australia is in the future, but for now the project is still growing so some label support may be needed to get us across the ocean!
Tell us a bit about your latest album and how would you best describe your music?
I have really taken the deep dive into producing with analog for the new record. I just can’t get enough of the tape sound. The record builds on the previous EP but I think it’s a lot more psych-rock oriented. I kind of describe the sound as funk fused with psych-rock but to be fair, I’m just making music that I like to make haha.
Success, what is the secret to it?
Not to be cliche, but I honestly think for success in music you have to put your soul into it… and have a lot of luck. I know for me, if I can hear the care an artist put into the craft, it’s good music.
What has been your biggest career highlight?
The past two singles I’ve released in preparation for the EP have hit no. 1 on hypemachine, which I’m both proud of and humbled by.
Which stars of the music industry do you find inspiring?
My biggest heroes in music are the self produced, multi-instrumentalists who make ground breaking records in their home studies. Kevin Parker, Chaz Bundick, Ruban Nielson.
Any new projects in the pipeline?
I am finishing up the second EP for Kainalu and have been working hard on another, much different and more collaborative band named Tejsa.
The music industry is huge, where do you see yourself a few years from now?
I hope to tour internationally within the next few years. I’ve spent to majority of my life writing music and building a studio so I think it’s time to see the world.
Name a few of your favourite Aussie artists.
Kevin Parker (Tame Impala). I mean, the guy kind of influenced everyone in psych rock. Hiatus Kaiyote. They are some of the most innovative neo-soul groups in the world.
The shape of the music industry has changed significantly over the years, including the use of social media, how do you feel about the industry as a whole and what does it mean to you in getting your records out into the public eye?
To me, one of the most beautiful things happening in music right now is the shift of the record making process away from expensive, for-hire studios and into the home studio setting. I think it’s creating a much more diverse landscape of music because to an artist, the studio set up is becoming their instrument. I feel like because artists are able to customize their recording setups to fit their needs exactly, more unique and diverse musical projects are being created. This can be a double edged sword though because with lower cost of entry come way, way more content. The thing is, social media is empowering self-recorded artists to reach a larger audiences. Once you get on the algorithms, you can find fans that would never reach 10 years ago. For me personally, it’s allowing me to connect with you despite living across the world.